Sometimes, in order to understand just how dedicated a teacher is inside the classroom, you've got to learn a little about his or her life outside of it.
Like, in Keith Debro's case, what he did outside the classroom for sixteen years. "From '89 to 2005," Keith says of his years working a second job as a baggage handler at San Francisco International Airport. "It was rough. I'd usually work there from 7 'til midnight" after a day of teaching.
Keith says he worked the long hours so he could continue building his career as a special education teacher. A career that, at that point, was not paying the bills. "On no," Keith laughs. "Not even close."
It would seem all the hard work has paid off.
Keith, now a special education teacher at Oakland Technical High School, was recently named an All Star Teacher by Major League Baseball, People Magazine, and the Target Corporation. Keith, one of thirty teachers to receive the honor, was chosen to represent his favorite team, the Oakland A's, at this year's All Star Game in Minneapolis. Keith was nominated for the honor by his wife, Kelly, who also submitted a short essay about her husband.
Kelly's essay focused on one of Keith's proudest achievements as a teacher: a mentoring program he began at Oakland Tech eight years ago. "I think this is kind of part of what we are supposed to be doing." Keith says. "Finding ways for kids to fit in."
Through the program, Oakland Tech juniors and seniors, spend time during and after school at two nearby elementary schools assisting teachers whatever way they can. Keith began to program at Emerson Elementary, just down the block from Oakland Tech. "It's just five hundred yards away," Keith says, "and our students had no connection with them." Now, every day of the week Oakland Tech students can be found working, and playing with the younger children.
The program is open to all Oakland Tech students, Keith says, but it is his, special education students that seem to get the most out of it.
"For kids with special needs to walk over and be a big shot somewhere is just incredible for them," Keith says, "because it never happens. They are not a big shot anywhere."